Business Rates - your opinion sought

Caroline Williams, Chief Executive, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

It’s been a busy week in Westminster, with an avalanche of economic data, announcements and new legislation emanating from government. We learned, for example, that the new Growth and Infrastructure Bill will include previously-trailed measures to simplify the planning system and to cut the volume of paperwork that businesses have to submit for some applications.

But in a less-visible move, the Bill also includes clauses to delay the 2015 revaluation of premises for business rates until 2017. Ministers argue that this will deliver greater certainty and stability for businesses, who often suffer wild swings in their rates bills at the time of a revaluation. They also believe that announcing the delay will mean that future revaluations don’t take place close to elections – thereby reducing the chance of short-term political decision-making.

I’m keen to understand what the impact this delayed revaluation will have on businesses across the Norfolk. Do you think that it will, as ministers claim, increase stability and certainty at a key time? Or do you think there may be unintended consequences for firms, whether in city centres, on industrial estates and business parks, or in rural areas?  Your feedback is very welcome.

Meantime, we will begin to campaign – once again – for action to stop further hikes in business rates. Rises, which take place in April, are pegged to the previous September’s RPI inflation figure, which was also announced this week. The 2.6% rise businesses face in April 2013 comes after a 5.6% rise in 2012 and a 4.6% rise in 2011. It’s time to say enough is enough. So as our response to the inflation statistics made clear, we will be making the case

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